The Draft Dropoff

With just two players taken through the first three rounds of the NFL Draft, it's clear this year is quite the dropoff from the Trojans' typical draft success.

Nearly a dozen Trojans hopeful of getting drafted are keeping their phones close to them this weekend. For two, the nerves have calmed after being selected in the first round.

Matt Kalil (4th overall to the Minnesota Vikings) and Nick Perry (28th overall to the Green Bay Packers) can breathe easy. But their teammates can barely breathe in anticipation.

The process is painstaking. It's something only a player can understand, even if you're both watching the same thing. Even Perry sat in the green room Thursday in panic, texting fellow Trojans, trying to pass the time as quickly as possible.

But he didn't have to wait days like his former teammates probably will. Because now comes the dropoff. Aside from the first rounders, this year was a weak one for Trojans moving on to the NFL.

Whether it's a character knock, an issue with consistency or a health concern, this year's crop of players-- coming off a surprising 10-2 season in a tough Pac-12 conference -- are not being seeing the same opportunities as Trojans have in years' past.

Matt Barkley will be in New York next year and it's probable that Robert Woods will as well. Those players are household names, though. Then you have senior safety T.J. McDonald, who could have been a later pick in this year's draft. Next throw in Khaled Holmes -- the top-ranked preseason center, according to ESPN. He's likely to go high, either late in the first or somewhere in the second.. And don't leave out Nickell Robey, who may be set back a round with his height, but will probably still see an early selection. With solid seasons, seniors Devon Kennard and Wes Horton can also put themselves in a good position for next April.

That's seven potential 1st or 2nd (or even third) round draft picks. While that may be a stretch and it's way too early to make definite predictions, it's safe to say this year won't match the Trojan selections in the 2013 draft.

Through three rounds, only Perry and Kalil have been selected. Even after a coaching change in 2010 and an 8-5 season, three USC players went in the first three rounds and nine were taken overall.

It may be too early to tell but it looks as though USC won't have the same kind of love with NFL general managers and coaches this year. Rhett Ellison and Da'John Harris look to be in the best position to get drafted after Kalil and Perry, but that would still only total four Trojans.

At least five players from USC have been picked in every draft since 2005. If a dropoff happens this year, one might ask why. Here are a few obvious factors.

1.) This team is full of freshmen and sophomores. Examples? Marqise Lee, a freshman, was the Trojans' No. 2 receiver. And the three starting linebackers were all freshmen.

2.) Quite a few individuals have unique stories. Marc Tyler dealt with his off-the-field issues, Armond Armstead was not medically cleared in 2011 and was forced to redshirt his senior season and Chris Galippo struggled with chronic back injuries throughout college.

3.) Most of these players never got much of a chance. Shane Horton and Marshall Jones sat on the sideline as seniors after playing a good amount under Pete Carroll. And senior receiver Brandon Carswell, who almost transferred to Cincinnati, saw his primary role as a blocker for the younger wideouts.

4.) Some simply underperformed. Rhett Ellison didn't catch the ball as much as he would have liked. Da'John Harris displayed inconsistency throughout the season. And Christian Tupou was knocked for his athleticism and footwork in an NFL scouting report.

Whatever the reason, the dropoff is obvious. Fortunately for Trojan fans, it looks to be more an off-year than anything. Because, as you've heard time and again, the future is bright.

With that light, the superstars will soon emerge. And history will repeat itself.


USCFootball.com Top Stories